this wednesday, july 21st, is the 60th anniversary of guam's liberation by us forces from japanese occupation in world war 2. although the core of the many events is solemn, it *is* a celebration of and by the local people, known as chamorros. for my first "is my blog burning?" entry, i wanted to submit a chamorro dish in honour of the unique culture of the island.
i decided on kelaguen mannok, chicken kelaguen, which is a standard local dish. it is basically a chopped chicken ceviche-type dish with freshly grated coconut, hot red chilis, and onions. however simple it is, it comes with a complex history reflecting guam's native culture, the influence from hispanic, latino, and filipino cultures during its time in the 16th century spanish empire, and the far east asian influence during the japanese occupation in the 1940s.
this is what you'll need:
1 3-4 lb. broiler-fryer chicken, cut into pieces or 2½-3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken parts, seasoned with salt and pepper, then grilled (preferrably over charcoal); after cooking, discard bones and skin, coarsely mince the meat
2-3 c. freshly grated coconut (frozen fresh coconut can be substituted--if you can't find either, omit it, do not substitute with bagged coconut)
1 c. chopped green onions
½-1 c. of fresh lemon, lime, calamansi, or dayap juice
thai bird chili peppers or scotch bonnet chili peppers, finely chopped (i start with 6 and work my way up!)
this is what you'll do:
put all the ingredients in a bowl. mix them up. adjust the acid--is it not lemony enough for you? add more. adjust the heat--is it not spicy enough? you know what to do. salt and pepper to taste.
it is not necessary to grill the chicken over charcoal or wood, but i do recommend it as the smoky flavour adds a depth to this spicy, lemony dish that pan or gas grilled chicken doesn't. you can omit the spicy chilis altogether, but the sweet milkiness of the fresh coconut will temper the fire in every bite.
kelaguen is served either cold or at room temperature. you can eat it as is, or wrapped in a warm corn or flour tortilla, or the local version, titiyas, with a little finadene on the side.
i hope you enjoy it!